Several years ago, before the centennial of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre would take center stage on every media outlet, there was a common refrain that echoed in the minds of most Black Tulsans. “What will be different? What has changed for Black people in Tulsa after 100 years?”
By now, given the boom in coverage around the Massacre, aided by popular shows like HBO’s Watchmen and Lovecraft Country, more Americans are aware of what happened in Tulsa between May 31 and June 1, 1921.
What has not received as much coverage is the condition of Black Tulsa since 1921 or how to forge a path forward to rebuild Black Wall Street.
As a native of the Greenwood District and with at least one known survivor in our family to-date, it was important for me to use my expertise to improve my community. With this in mind, I started two projects centering on the Massacre while providing a set of solutions or “blueprints” to build Black generational wealth.
The first was my book, From Burning to Blueprint: Rebuilding Black Wall Street After a Century of Silence. My goal with the book was to provide more than a historical account of what happened a century ago but to provide a path for Black families to rebuild Black Wall Street in the 21st century.
The second project was to put many of the principles I discussed in the book into practice.
In 2020, I received a grant from the Plutus Foundation for The Legacy Project. The Project allowed me (through my company, BuildingBread) to conduct a series of workshops focused on custodial accounts and 529 college savings plans to first-time parents with children under the age of one.
Week one of the program focused on understanding, selecting, and opening an investing account. The second week focused on investment selection with tools and tips on how to research an investment and how to make good investing choices. In the third and final week, we covered the basics of estate planning including tips on how parents could pass on generational wealth through updated beneficiary designations.
The participants of this program were all first-time parents of children under the age of one who reside in Tulsa’s Greenwood District. I wanted to do more than simply provide a series of financial literacy workshops. I wanted to ensure that parents walked away with tangible skills and something they could take action with immediately.
To that end, every parent that attended the Legacy Project opened an investment account on behalf of their children at Fidelity Investments and received $100 to begin investing with, thanks to the Plutus Foundation.
“I am a first-generation college student and struggled my way through affording college,” one parent said in the exit survey. “I thoroughly enjoyed learning about the different accounts available to set up for children to take advantage of when they are older to lessen the financial strain of college.”
Ebony Easily, another parent who participated in the Legacy Project added: “I’m super grateful and excited you shared your expertise over these last few weeks with us…I’ve been able to take valuable steps to better ensure my financial future for my family.”
In all, eight parents participated in the program resulting in $500 deposited for five new investors. If each parent continues to invest just $100 per month, collectively their children could have more than $50,000 over the next twenty-one years based on previous market data.